Feb 15th: The Young and Exotic

By on February 15, 2014 in

Podcaster:  Pamela Quevillon

Title: Space Scoop: The Young and Exotic

Organization:  Speak Easy Narration

Linkhttp://speakeasynarration.com ; http://unawe.org/kids/unawe1381/

Description: Space scoop, news for children.

Bio: Pamela Quevillon is a voice actress who most often lends her voice to science and science fiction content. You can find her work on the “Escape Pod” and “365 Days of Astronomy”, as well as on her site

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — no one. We still need sponsors for many days in 2013, so please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at signup@365daysofastronomy.org.


This is  365 Days of Astronomy. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop Series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.

This picture shows Circinus X-1, the youngest X-ray binary ever found! It is less than 4,600 years old!  Credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison/S.Heinz et a/CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA

This picture shows Circinus X-1, the youngest X-ray binary ever found! It is less than 4,600 years old! Credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison/S.Heinz et a/CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA

If you’ve ever broken a bone, you’ll know that X-rays are bad for humans. When doctors take an X-ray picture of a broken bone, they hide behind a protective screen to avoid being hit by X-ray radiation. But the radiation you receive from an X-ray machine is 50 times less than the radiation we are blasted with every year from cosmic sources. Fortunately, our atmosphere blocks these X-rays, so we’re perfectly safe here on Earth.

Some of the most powerful sources of X-rays in the Universe are ‘X-ray binaries’. These are pairs of stars where one star is normal, like the Sun, and the other is an ultra-compact type star called a ‘neutron star’. As these two objects orbit one another, the neutron star’s strong gravity pulls layers of the companion star away and swallows them. These layers of gas get very hot when they are pulled away from the companion star and they send out X-rays.

A new study of an X-ray binary called Circinus X-1 found that it is less than 4,600 years old! This makes it the youngest X-ray binary ever seen. Astronomers have discovered hundreds of X-ray binaries throughout our Galaxy and even some outside our Galaxy. All of these X-ray binary star systems are old, so they only reveal information about what happens much later, in their life. With these new observations, we can still see the shock waves created when the system was formed!

Cool Fact: Neutron stars are formed after an event called a supernova, which is when a massive star dies in an explosion more powerful than almost any other event in the Universe. The blast sends out enough radiation to equal a few octillion nuclear warheads! (An octillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!)

365 Days of Astronomy is a community podcast made possible thanks to the contributions of people like you. Please consider donating at 365DaysofAstronomy.org/Donate

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Astrosphere New Media. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. In the new year the 365 Days of Astronomy project will be something different than before….Until then…goodbye

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